Showing posts with label Prehistoric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prehistoric. Show all posts

The Mysterious Stone Circle of Bengaluru


'Bannerghatta' is a very popular tourist spot in Bengaluru. It is one of the most popular biological park (zoo) in India. Bannerghatta was declared as a National park in the year 1974 and is very rich in flora and fauna. One of the lesser known facts about this place is that it is also one of the earliest settlements around Bengaluru. The many artifacts found here have already made it evident that it  was occupied since the Neolithic age, which also means that people have been living here since from about the past 7000 years. This place is also home to the tribal settlement of Hakki Pikki. They still have managed to maintain their rituals and practices despite being close to one of the fastest growing metros in the World, Bengaluru. 
Mysterious Stone Circle of Bengaluru
 There are many megalithic structures found in and around Bannerghatta. One among these is the unique stone structure not found elsewhere in India. The circular stone labyrinth or popularly called the '7 tiered fort' or 'yeLu sutthina kote' (in Kannada). Although there are a few square stone labyrinths found in Tamil Nadu, the one seen here is rare. 
Ancient Labyrinth of Banneraghatta
 The 'Labyrinth' or  'Chakravyuha' or 'Padmavyuha' is a multilayered formation in the form of a 'Chakra' (circle) or 'Padma' (lotus). Such patterns have been used since the Mahabharata period. It is well known that the Kaurava's formed the Chakravyuha as an act of defense in order to defeat Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna. Although Abhimanyu was successful in entering and breaking all the circles, he remained stuck in breaking the seventh one as he had no knowledge about the same. He thus made a valiant effort in breaking the Chakravyuha formed by the Kauravas, only to attain martyrdom after causing significant damage. 
Chakravyuha Carving (12th Century, Sri Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebeedu)
Earliest Carving of Labyrinth belonging to Mesolithic Period (Usgalimal, Goa)
 'Labyrinth' or the'Chakravyuha' (in the language of Kannada) formed a significant part of prehistoric structures and rituals. Although the exact purpose of its construction or formation remains a mystery, a common belief of the labyrinth representing the journey of life, death and rebirth exists.   It probably symbolizes the complexity of life or the path of life and holds enormous spiritual power. The earliest documented labyrinth in India is from Usgalimal in Goa, which is in the form of an engraving on the rock bed. The Labyrinth found here is unique to India, whereas they are seen much commonly in Russia and other European countries. Sweden alone  is home to more than 300 such Labyrinths, of which more than a 100  are found in Swedish Lapland. Although such structures are commonly sighted elsewhere, they are rarely found in India. However, India has many sites that carry rock engravings and temple carvings carrying designs of the Labyrinth
Labyrinth Rock Etching (8th Century, Yadgir Fort)
Labyrinth Rock Engraving (11th Century, Pusphagiri, AP)
 Such structures were commonly built in the Eurasian countries roughly between 2000 BCE - 100 BCE. Hence we can safely assign the structure seen in Bannerghatta  also to the same period. But owing to the similarity in their design patters, it is very difficult to assess the mode of communication that existed between people separated by large geographic areas and the occurrence of similar patterns during the same period at different places is very intriguing.  The stone structure found here is located inside the forest of Bannerghatta. A walk of about 1.5 km from the hill top leads us to the mysterious structure. This structure is built of irregularly shaped rocks laid in a pattern similar to that representing a labyrinth. The centre or the end of circle comprises of a heap of stones with a small shelf like opening for worship. Even today many locals come here for offering prayers. Surprisingly, many married couples also visit here and take a walk together for longevity of their marriage and children.  Hereon, one can also visit the Suvarnamukhi, a pilgrim spot housing  temples dedicated to Lords Narasimha and Anjaneya and a thirtha/pond.
yeLu sutthina kote
I remember reading an article  about this place long ago, but was unable to trace the article or any other related to this structure. However, there is one article by the Karnataka Itihasa Academy which only mentions about this structure without any further details. Hopefully the interested ones in research field carry out a scientific study on this structure to ascertain the exact period  and probable purpose of its construction. It is a sure thing that this region is prehistoric, which is evident from the numerous dolmens and stone circles that can be sighted here and around. 
Labyrinth

References:

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Talavadi Fort, Ramanagar - A forgotten fort


Talavadi is a small nondescript village off Ramanagara – Magadi road. Though not much history about this place is documented, it has in store many untold stories. Last Sunday, we got a chance to trek Kootgal Betta we spotted this fort and decided to trek next week. We planned and reached Talavadi quite early in the morning to start our trek.  I was accompanied by my son Adhi and my friend Shashi Kiran. We had our breakfast in Ramanagara and reached the deviation off the Ramanagara – Magadi road. Hereon, we began our off road drive to reach the base of this hill.  We had to make a few enquiries with the locals about the directions to reach the hill base and the trek route thereon. An elderly person informed us that it would be difficult to climb this hill as the route had been engulfed by grass and other thorny vegetation, and gave us the directions vaguely. We thanked him and decided to move ahead towards the hill base. 
Challenging Climb Near Bengaluru
Talavadi Hill Fort
We had to park our vehicle at a point from where there was no motor-able road, and had to walk to until the start point of the trek. At the first look, the hill seemed small giving us a thought that it wouldn’t be much of a challenge to scale the hill. We started our search for the trek route and reached a small temple dedicated to Udbhava Anjaneya Swamy. The guardian Lord reminded us to search around for the presence of any fort or its ruins.  After taking the blessings of the Lord, we decided to move ahead and actually had to almost circumvent the hill in search of a proper route to climb. After walking for almost 15 minutes, we reached a big water pond. Just by the side of the pond, we sighted a path which seemed trek-able and hence decided to ascend from here. 
Water Pond and The Fort
Sri Udbhava Anjaneya Swamy
 The initial climb was quite easy and straight forward, and we reached a tier of the fort wall.  Here we met two boys from Bengaluru who were also there to explore the hill. As we struck a conversation with the boys, I realized that they too were in search of the right path to continue their climb. I volunteered to search the environs for any path that could be walk-able.  Meanwhile I requested the others to rest at a place in shade and went in search of the route. After exploring the surroundings for some time, I zeroed in on the most probable route that could be taken to reach the top. I called the others to join me, along with Shashi and Adhi. Shashi took charge from here leading the way. Seeing the route that was to be taken hereon, the two boys gave up the trek and left the place without informing us! The vegetation was dense with tall grass and thorny shrubs.
Wade Thru the Grass and Thorny Shrubs
The Rock Cut Steps
Kootgal Betta
We continued to crawl under the grass and thorny shrubs and finally reached a point from where we were almost sure about the path further. Shashi did a wonderful job in finding the path and we reached a spot which had big boulders on either side. We sighted much fortification on the left boulder and so decided to explore it. The boulder was very steep with rock cut steps to aid the climb and passing these 15 odd steps was one hell of an experience! We reached the top of the hill which housed a ruined mandapa kind of a structure along with a fresh water pond. The fresh water pond was filled with many beautiful white lilies.  We spent some time enjoying the sight of the water pond and its surroundings. 
Fresh Water Pond
Flying High
Mandapa and Nadadwaja
White Water Lilies
As per an inscription found near Ramanagara (EC Vol 9 Ch 16) dated 1351 CE, Talavadi was ruled by a local Palegara named Bomanna, who was a feudal king under the rule of Bukkanna Vodeyar of Vijayanagara Kingdom. Later Sri Kempe Gowda captured and strengthened this fort, which mostly served as a military outpost during his rule.  Though much of the fortification has been damaged, its remnants give a good picture of what a grand fort it was once. The formation rocks are such that they served as natural defense from the three sides and the fort was only accessible from one side. At a few places, we were able to spot horse shoe marks which are a common sight across forts built by the Kempe Gowda clan. 
Horse Shoe Marks
Cliff Hanging
The descent posed us a challenge where we had to cross the 15 steep steps and we had to literally cliff hang for some time.  The descent across the grass and thorny path too was a bit challenging as we had to overstep and pass through them. Once we were out of this, the descent was easy. As we continued our descent, we spotted something really interesting on the neighbouring hill and decided to check them out on reaching the hill base.
The Dare Devil
Full View of Talavadi Fort
Hunt Begins
 To be continued. ….
  
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Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri - History with Mystery

'Ooria-Durgam' is one amongst the 12 forts that constituted the 'Baramahal' (the earlier name of Krishnagiri). Locating this place with the name of 'Ooria-Durgam' was quite a difficult task for us as google search engine failed to show up any results for the same. However, I came across an article which  mentioned that Ooria-Durgam was the erstwhile name of Hudedurgam, and is today being called as Udedurgam. Udedurgam is a nondescript village near Kelamangala and we reached this place without much difficulty. The fortification on the hill was quite evident and when we drove in its direction, we missed a right turn and went further. After realizing that we were heading in the wrong direction, we inquired with a passerby and tracing back as per his instructions, reached the missed turning point. On finding it inappropriate to drive, we took the available deviation and reached a dead-end, where we found an elderly person involved in his farm chores. When asked about the route to the hill of Udedurgam, he kindly replied by telling us to park our vehicle under good shade after which he volunteered to accompany us till the start of the trail from whereon the route seemed clear and the ascent quite comfortable. He was a very interesting and a joyful person, hailing from  the state of Andhra and having settled here long ago.  Since he spoke the language of Telugu, our communication with him was easier.
Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri
Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri
Pattern on the Rock
 As we started walking towards the hill, I happened to notice a structure similar to the prehistoric stone circle and Bingo! I was indeed right! It turned out to be a prehistoric cairn circle. 'Cairn Circles' are a type of megalithic burials, which were constructed using rough boulders with cairn/ urn packing at its centre. It turns out very difficult to date these structures and can be roughly assigned to a period anywhere between 2000 B.C.E to 500 B.C.E. Only a proper and systematic study can help reveal the exact or the closest date. Sighting a cairn circle only doubled our excitement as it seemed to be a perfect ' History with Mystery ' kind of an exploration. There were many hidden secrets waiting to be discovered. We continued to walk towards the hill and were welcomed by a ruined fort gateway. It was also pleasing to witness some portions of the fortification intact. The environs here had an endless vista of hills and valleys apart from its history/ pre-history. It looked like a place where every layer of history remained evident and exposed.
History with Mystery
Megalithic Stone Circle
Butter Ball
 This place may have been inhabited from a very long time back, as tools found here belong to different periods - the Neolithic, Mesolithic period and Megalithic periods. The site is perfect to carry out pre-historic studies, as it is quite evident from the environs to be a perfect place for pre-historic human  settlement. The ascent was pretty much straight forward and easy. It was a first for our youngest trek partner Ms.Diya who took it up on her own and trekked covering a decent distance. However, this was just her beginning and she proved to be a good learner! After sometime, we reached a big boulder that carried a painting of Lord Hanuman. A little further was another gateway with much of its fortification intact, after which the terrain turned flat. We passed by a small water pond and a little further from here was a damaged strucutre that looked like a room, probably constructed during the British period. We continued to explore this region and stumbled upon another intact stone circle! Simply wow! This sighting deviated us from following the original route as we spent sometime exploring this area. However, we were unable to find anything apart from a few ruins of the fort. We returned to our trail and spotted a big stepped water tank or kalyani that remained empty.
A Water Pond
Young Trekker Leading the Way
Bless Me "Lord Anjaneya"
Lovely Vista
 We continued our climb and came across the third gateway, which eventually lead to the top most tier of the fort. Atop the hill were two temples dedicated to Lords Hanuman and Shiva. While the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is at the summit, at a much lower elevation is the temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. While the Shiva Linga seems to belong to a period much older the fort, the temple structure belongs to 15-16th century. The temples were surrounded by many water ponds which remained clean. Many broken pieces of pottery were seen fallen all over the place, probably belonging to the historic era of 15- 16th century CE.  Although not much of history is known about this place, it is very clear that the fort existed much before the 16th century. Later during  the third Mysore war, Tippu garrisoned this fort and surrendered it to the British in 1791. After the peace treaty between them, the fort was returned to Tippu. Finally, in 1799 it fell into the hands of the British and was annexed to the Madras state.
Lord Anjaneya Temple, Udedurgam
Lord Shiva Temple, Udedurgam
Panoramic View 
Om Namah Shivaya
The view from atop the hill was simply magnificent and the lovely moving clouds added the required glamour. We could spot various other forts from the hill top, some of which are Ratnagiri, Rayakottai, Anchettydurgam, Krishnagiri and many such. After having the snacks and bananas that we had carried, we spent a good amount of time at the top. The surroundings seemed to have many hidden mysteries. We spotted a cave that resembled a shelter for the prehistoric human, and hence wished to check it out. However, we could not find any trace of prehistoric humans. The place may have been  used by the soldiers who guarded the area. We then headed towards our parked our vehicle. We greeted Mr. Venkatesh, the person who had guided us in the morning and thanked him. It was lunch time and he insisted us to join them for lunch. We were hesitant initially as we had to return home and the weather was extremely hot, but later agreed to join them as we were hungry. And we were pleased for having joined them for lunch. It was one of the best lunches we have had, sitting under the canopy of tamarind trees and amidst people with big hearts, who were more than happy to feed our children and us by sharing their food. The elderly man also gave us the freshly harvested beans and tomatoes from his farm. Finally, we bade a good-bye, after thanking them. Exploring Udedurgam was an amazing experience overall. An other day, another adventure!
Cave Bunker
The Lost Wood

Forts of Krishnagiri:
1. Thattakaldurgam 
2. Krishnagiri 
3. Jagadevi 
4. Ratnagiri 
5. Balagondarayanadurga
6. Maharajakadai
7. Rayakottai 
8. Periyamalai
9. Ankushagiri 
10. Anchettydurgam
11. Thrayandurgam

References:
1. Madras state gazetteer - Salem
2. Archaeology of Krishnagiri District 

Melgudi Jain/Jaina Temple, Hallur, Bagalkot

'Hallur' is a nondescript village located in the district of Bagalkot, off the Bagalkot - Kudala Sangama highway and can undoubtedly be considered as unusual and unique. Bagalkot, the Badami Chalukyan heart land is home to numerous temples built by the Cholas and Rashtrakutas around the 8th and 9th centuries AD. During one of my visits to Bagalkot, I got an opportunity of visiting the ancient temples of Hallur town. It was fascinating! The two prominent historic temples among them are those dedicated to Lord Basaveshwara built in 8th century by the Cholas and a Jain temple (popularly called Melgudi Jaina temple) built in 9th century by the Rashtrakutas. Hallur is located about 18 km from Bagalkot. Reaching this place was an easy task and as we reached, both the temples were easily visible.
Melgudi Jain Temple, Hallur
First Look of Melgudi Jain Temple, Hallur
Melgudi Jain Temple, Hallur, Bagalkot
Melgudi Jain Temple, Hallur, Bagalkot
We chose to visit the Melgudi Jaina temple at first which is located atop a small hillock, thus giving it the name Melgudi. The temple is built on similar lines with the Meguti Temple at Aihole (7th century, Badami Chalukyas) with the only difference being that the navaranga here is a closed one. The Melgudi Jain temple was built around 870 AD during the reign of the most famous Rashtrakuta king, Amoghavarsha. This beautiful sandstone temple consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala and a navaranga/sabhamandapa, with an interesting stone ladder leading to the first storey that housing a small garbhagriha. The garbhagriha is originally believed to have consisted of a murti of a Jaina Tirthankara. However the temple now enshrines a Shiva Linga and Nandi along with a damaged inscription at its entrance which probably carried details of the installation of the same. The temple having been dedicated originally to a Jaina Tirthankara even now houses a murti of the same which is  kept in the sabhamandapa. But with no details with regards to why and when the original Jain temple was converted into a Shiva temple, the temple's history still remains a mystery. However, the  inscriptions may have carried information regarding the same, but it sadly remains damaged.
Inside the Garbhagriha
Typical Rashtrakutas Ceilings
Three Lotus Carving on the Central Ceiling
Murti of Jaina Tirthankara in the Navaranga
I climbed the small stone ladder that opens to the first storey only to find an empty garbhagriha. Being awestruck witnessing this small gudi (temple), I could only imagine as to how grand it would have been back then, during its full glory. That said, I strongly believe that my imagination would any day fall short of its true glory. After coming back to reality, I got down the ladder and decided to explore the external features of this temple. There are a total of 8 life-size carvings of various Jaina Tirthankaras on the outer walls of the temple. There are different kinds of Jalis (perforated stone windows) fixed in the outer walls. The details of the kutas (miniature shrine motifs), salas (oblong members with a wagon shaped roof), panjaras (shallow niches formed by pilasters) and makara toranas  are unfinished.
Small Gudi on the First Storey
A Jali Window/ Perforated Stone window of Rashtrakuta period
Jali Window
Life Sized Jain Tirthankaras are Carved on the Outer walls
Life-size Jaina Tirthankaras are Carved on the Outer Walls 
Historic Temple to visit near Bagalkot
Another View of the Melgudi Jain Temple
Detailing on the Outer walls
While closely observing the outer walls, I was dumbstruck to sight prehistoric kind of carvings on them! They were quite intriguing! Although I was able to identify many carvings such as those of the bulls, people and scenes of hunting, I have never witnessed something like this before and was unable to believe my eyes. The carvings here were pretty much similar to the ones at Sanganakallu. On further visual investigation as to whether these carvings belonged to the prehistoric period or not, I tried to trace the carving between two stones of the wall and found them to be discontinuous. Thus revealing that the carvings were made much before this temple was built. Sadly, a few insensitive idiots have tried to disfigure these carvings by their senseless graffiti. Thanks to god that some of these carvings have remained intact. I was unable to find much of literature/details about this temple. Once I was back in Bangalore from this trip, I re-looked at all the photographs taken by us during our previous visits to Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole. On careful observation and with a keen eye for detail, I found one of the pictures of Pattadakal having similar carvings of bulls and the only feeling I got was 'Wow'! Probably back then in October 2010, we were not versed with the prehistoric times and hence did not go ahead with the search for such carvings around with interest. However, may be during our next visit to this place, we would end up finding more about these carvings and many such! It is truly mysterious to have found such carvings on the temple walls and to further ascertain whether they are really prehistoric or not is very difficult at present. However the same can be achieved and confirmed by a thorough  and proper investigation and documentation. 
Southern Wall of the Temple
Prehistoric carving on Historic temple
Carving of a Bull
Proof of All the Vandalism and Ever Vanishing Evidences of Our  History
Bull Carving from Pattadakal
 To be continued...